342 THE GAY GENIUS
merely let the country alone. These three articles are designed to let
the body cure itself. If I don't get well by the help of these three herbs,
then it is God's will and not my fault." Chien offered him some very
rare medicine said to have a magical power, but Su Tungpo refused to
On July 18 Su Tungpo gathered his three sons together by his side
and said to them: "I have done nothing wrong in my life, and I an^
sure I shall not go to hell." He told them not to worry and gave instruc-
tions that Tseyu was the person to write his tomb inscription and that
he was to be buried with his wife at the foot of the Sungshan Mountain
near Tseyu's home. After a few days he seemed to improve and asked
his two younger sons to help him get up from bed and assist him to
walk a few steps. But then he found he could not even sit up for long
On July 25 all hopes of his recovery were given up. One of the old
friends in his Hangchow days, Abbot Weilin, had now arrived, and
was constantly in his company. Although Su could not sit up, he liked
to have the abbot in the room so that he could talk with him. On the
twenty-sixth, he wrote his last poem. The abbot had been talking with
him about the life here and hereafter, and had suggested saying certain
Buddhist incantations. Su laughed. He had read the histories of the
Buddhist monks and he knew all of them died.
"What about Kumaradiva? He died, didn't he?" Kumaradiva was a
Hindu priest who came to China in the fourth century. Single-handed,
he translated some three hundred volumes of Buddhist classics into
Chinese, and he was generally acknowledged as the first Buddhist
missionary to lay the foundation for the Mahayana sect, which is the
prevalent sect in China and Japan. When Kumaradiva was about to
die, he asked his Hindu brothers who were with him to say certain
Sanskrit incantations for him. But in spite of the incantations Kumara-
diva grew worse and soon died. Su had read his life in the Chin history
and still remembered it.
On July 28 he began to sink rapidly and his breath grew short.
According to custom, the family put a tuft of cotton at the tip of his
nose to indicate his breathing. His entire family was in the room. The
abbot went very close to him and spoke into his ear. "At this moment,
think of the life hereafter!"
Su Tungpo whispered slowly: "The Western Heaven may exist, but
trying to get there won't help." Chien, who was standing by, said to
him: "At this moment especially, you must try." Su Tungpo's last
words were: "It's a mistake to try." That was his Taoism. Salvation
consists in being natural and unconsciously good.
Mai stepped forward and asked for his last instructions, but without
saying a word, Su Tungpo passed away* He was sixty-four years of age.